Oh, back in the day .. how many times have you heard this? It sure is a sign I'm gittin' old.
Still, I have to say that canoeing sure has changed since I first went on a trip. Back then, you could count on a campsite, and if that site was taken, the next would be free.
Now, I'm coming down the river, and the only site for miles is occupied by four-wheel freeloaders. The ATVers and muscle-truckers have gunned their way into every hidden nook of the province.
Sure, the roads were already there in most cases, but they were trails, used by fisher-folk, Micmacs and Maliseets, and the odd wood-cutter. Once grassed over and overgrown, they're now broad highways lined with mudholes, open to anyone who can rev an engine and steer a blimp-tired buggy. And they get ever wider, as drivers edge to the outside to steer clear of the ruts and holes they made already.
Now don't get me wrong, ATV's do have their place. They've gotten me in and out of some of the most remote spots in New Brunswick, granting me access to rivers rarely run. They've saved me from long lonely treks many times, and the drivers went out of their way to ensure my safety and happiness. ATV clubs have their own managed trails and pick up after themselves, since most riders do care about the environment.
It's when I watch videos on You-Tube showing yahoos seeing how badly they can get their four-wheelers and jacked-up pickups stuck in bogs that previously hadn't seen any damage since the last Ice Age. This isn't just anywhere, it's places I have been, close to home, and these meadows are scarred so baldly they will never look the same again. And the mud the drivers gouge out with their stippled tires makes the streams run brown, clogging up spawning sites and smothering all life downstream.
Woodland paths I walked as a youth are now wide mudholes, ridged with the ruts of a thousand vehicles, growing deeper and wider each year. And the filth!!! Discarded mattresses, old TVs, random garbage, now line the trails where flowers once bloomed.
Okay, I won't go on. What's the answer? I don't know. Maybe the next four-wheeler bog and mud party should be held on these folks' front lawns, instead of on other peoples' property. The woods belong to us all.
Are we there yet?
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